Right to Legal Counsel The Short Version:
a. You can choose any lawyer you want.
b. Some lawyers (like Mr. Pearse) only do DUI files. They would be a good choice.
Right to Legal Counsel The Long Version:
In Canada, people charged with criminal offences have the “right to counsel.” This means that, if the accused wishes, he or she can talk to whatever lawyer they want on the night in question (assuming that lawyer is available) and can have any lawyer they want represent them at the trial. There are a few points to keep in mind from this:
1. Lawyers who take a lot of DUI matters are often willing to speak with the accused for free when they are initially picked up by the police. These lawyers typically have large advertisements in the local Yellow Pages directories. For example, if you are picked up by the police at three in the morning, the easiest way to find a good DUI lawyer is to simply ask the police for the local Yellow Pages, and open up the book to the “lawyers” section.
2. In Canada, you are allowed to be defended by any lawyer you want. This is a constitutional right that you have under section10(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, you could choose one of the following lawyers:
a. Your friend the lawyer, who practices residential conveyancing and wills and estates.
b. A lawyer you know who conducts a general criminal practice.
c. A lawyer who practices almost nothing but DUI law. Mr. Pearse would be an example of this group.
As stated, the choice of counsel is totally yours, and you can pick any lawyer you want. Having said that, most lawyers who don’t even practice criminal law will be very hesitant to accept a DUI file, as it is commonly known within the profession that these files are abnormally specialized, complex and counterintuitive. Indeed, lawyers like Mr. Pearse receive a great deal of their files from lawyers who do not practice criminal law.
Predictably, Mr. Pearse is of the opinion that an accused will be better served by a lawyer who only practices DUI law. Having said that, if you can’t locate a DUI lawyer, then a lawyer who conducts a general criminal practice may be a good choice.